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Atopic Dermatitis

A chronic skin disease characterized by itchy, inflamed skin.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

About Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a long-lasting disease that affects the skin. It is not contagious.

Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of eczema, which is a general term for disorders that produce skin inflammation.

What happens in atopic dermatitis?

If you have atopic dermatitis, you lose moisture from the outer layer of the skin. The skin then becomes very dry and has reduced protective abilities. This makes your skin more likely to become infected by bacteria or viruses.

In atopic dermatitis, the skin becomes extremely itchy. Scratching leads to redness, swelling, cracking, "weeping" clear fluid, crusting, and scaling. In most cases, there are periods of time when the disease is worse (called exacerbations or flares) followed by periods when the skin improves or clears up entirely (called remissions)....Read more about Atopic Dermatitis
NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Topical tacrolimus for atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD) (or atopic eczema) is a chronic skin condition that affects the quality of life of both adults and children. Topical corticosteroids (TCS) are the main ointments used for treatment, but there is a risk of side‐effects with their use, such as skin thinning. A class of drugs called topical calcineurin inhibitors, which include topical tacrolimus (and pimecrolimus), might provide an alternative to this problem, but since tacrolimus is a newer ointment compared with corticosteroids, there are still some questions about its effectiveness and safety.

Pimecrolimus for the Treatment of Adults with Atopic Dermatitis, Seborrheic Dermatitis, or Psoriasis: A Review of Clinical and Cost-Effectiveness [Internet]

Due to the expanded clinical use of pimecrolimus, a review of both the evidence of its efficacy and of its potential economic evaluation is of importance for a more evidence- based clinical and policy decision making process. This is particularly relevant in reference to three clinical conditions: adult atopic dermatitis, adult seborrheic dermatitis, and adult psoriasis.

Efficacy and tolerability of topical tacrolimus in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Bibliographic details: Li RX, Zhu HL, Fan LM, Ni SK, Feng CE, Wu ZH.  Efficacy and tolerability of topical tacrolimus in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Clinical Dermatology 2007; 36(12): 757-760

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Summaries for consumers

Topical tacrolimus for atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD) (or atopic eczema) is a chronic skin condition that affects the quality of life of both adults and children. Topical corticosteroids (TCS) are the main ointments used for treatment, but there is a risk of side‐effects with their use, such as skin thinning. A class of drugs called topical calcineurin inhibitors, which include topical tacrolimus (and pimecrolimus), might provide an alternative to this problem, but since tacrolimus is a newer ointment compared with corticosteroids, there are still some questions about its effectiveness and safety.

Dietary supplements for established atopic eczema in adults and children

Eczema is a skin condition characterised by an itchy, red rash, which affects 5% to 20% of people worldwide. There is no cure, but many treatments can help improve the skin's condition, making life easier. In those for whom these treatments do not work well or who fear their long‐term effects, there is often a belief that either something in their diet, or something missing in their diet, is making their eczema worse.

Interventions to reduce Staphylococcus aureus in the management of atopic eczema

Atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis or childhood eczema) is a big problem worldwide. The skin of people with atopic eczema often contains high numbers of a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus).

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Terms to know

Allergies
Conditions caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system to something in the environment that usually causes little or no problem in most people. Symptoms may include red eyes, an itchy rash, runny nose, shortness of breath, or swelling.
Eczema
A group of conditions in which the skin becomes inflamed, forms blisters, and becomes crusty, thick, and scaly. Eczema causes burning and itching, and may occur over a long period of time.
Inflammation
Redness, swelling, pain, and/or a feeling of heat in an area of the body. This is a protective reaction to injury, disease, or irritation of the tissues.
Pruritus (Itching)
A sensation that causes the desire or reflex to scratch.
Skin
The outer covering of the body that protects it from the environment.

More about Atopic Dermatitis

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Other terms to know: See all 5
Allergies, Eczema, Inflammation

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About Eczema
How the Immune System Works

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